Kevin Lerena is into his fifth year as a pro fighter, but he concedes he’s still learning.
“I learn something each time I fight. That’s why I welcome the step-up this weekend.”
The southpaw cruiserweight opens his “Super Four” account against wily Roberto Bolonti, the sort of fighter who can spoil and tie opponents up and make them look bad. He’s been around the block as a fighter and won’t be intimidated by Lerena’s size or reputation.
Bolonti is from working class Mar del Plata in Argentina, so it takes more than a regulation boxing match to scare him.
Lerena likes that because he is constantly looking to measure his self-worth. He wants Bolonti to press hard and to test him, precisely because he wants to see what he can respond with. Lerena doesn’t lack in self-confidence and backs his game.
“I’m excited. There’s good money on the table and the chance to improve my international ranking,” he says.
Indeed, Bolonti would be a worthy scalp – he’s fought 42 times and been in with many big names, among them newly-crowned WBC champion Tony Bellew. In an 11-year career he’s been stopped just once, so he has good instincts and a decent chin.
Lerena’s career was boosted by his recent win against Johnny Muller, not least because Muller is seldom easily beaten. He’ll be in the opposite side of the “Super Four” draw, against Micki Nielsen, so the opportunity exists for a rematch come October.
But Lerena isn’t thinking that far ahead. That would be a huge mistake, particularly as he must first deal with the Argentine and the pressure of fighting at home where fans expect him to live up to his “KO Kid” nickname.
Word out of the Smith gym is that Lerena has looked strong in workouts, impressing particularly against unorthodox Isaac Chilemba who, like Bolonti, can make anyone look bad.
Says promoter Rodney Berman: “Kevin is the whole package – he’s big, muscular, good looking and he can fight. What we don’t know is what he’s capable of. I expect we’ll know a lot more come Saturday night.”